By Martha A. Turner
Martha Turner's publication makes a massive contribution to the becoming stories of technology and literature via analyzing the connection among British fiction and the culture of mechanistic technological know-how derived from Isaac Newton. It lines the evolution of the concept that of mechanism between technological know-how writers and novelists of the 19th and 20th centuries and undertakes special research of novels by way of Austen, Scott, Dickens, Meredith, Conrad, Lawrence, and Doris Lessing. The e-book offers a bridge among the mechanical philosophy of the eighteenth century and present-day behavior of idea.
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Extra resources for Mechanism and the Novel: Science in the Narrative Process
61 Electromagnetism also challenged this Newtonian determinism. The behavior of electrically charged particles could not be observed or predicted as accurately as that of other atomistic entities (billiard balls, projectiles, planets), so James Clerk Maxwell resorted to statistical probability, focusing on entire fields The concept of mechanism 31 of force rather than their individual constituent particles. This change of emphasis diluted the necessitarian character of scientific explanation "laws" became statements of probability rather than inevitable truths and suggested that there are limits to the usefulness of atomism.
88 Empirical study of matter in motion in order to ascertain underlying laws is as characteristic of science in Huxley's view as it was 50 years earlier for Herschel or 250 years earlier for Newton. 89 He goes on to explain these breakthroughs and to enumerate other practical and theoretical advances in science during the Victorian era, seemingly confident that mastery of the physical universe is as viable a goal at the end of the nineteenth century as it appeared to be in Newton's heyday. Huxley's attitude reflects a mid-Victorian optimism, even though his essay focuses on developments that helped to erode this optimism.
The nineteenth century was a great era for the formation of new sciences; geology, chemistry, biology, and sociology, among others, became recognized disciplines during the period. Since the model for a successful science was Newtonian mechanics, proponents of new disciplines often felt compelled to prove their own scientific basis by emulating Newton's methodology. From Utilitarian social reformers in the first half of the century to embryologists in the 1880s, practitioners in various emerging fields sought the legitimacy conferred by experimentation and data-gathering.